The new Ghostbusters movie is finally here, and though the film certainly blazes its own trail in many ways, it still draws heavily from the original film in some respects. There's the Columbia University origins, the inclusion of Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, the original theme song, and much ballyhooed cameos from several of the original cast members. But probably the most notable similarity between the original Ghostbusters and the rebooted team is their use of proton packs to take on their spectral foes. But what exactly are proton packs?
Proton packs are the Ghostbusters' main weapon in every iteration of the franchise. They consist of a particle accelerator worn as a backpack that is then attached to a gun, or neutrino wand. The basic premise of the device is that the pack accelerates positrons, which are then forced out through the wand in a concentrated proton beam. The beam is then used to hold ghosts to direct them into a ghost trap for containment. The original movies don't get too involved with the science of how all this works (and don't refer to the devices as "proton packs" until the second film), but with the reboot, fans are getting some more specifics.
As an April Fools' Day prank, Sony announced that they had developed a working proton pack. According to the scientific mumbo jumbo in the device's description, the proton pack is powered by hydrogen plasma cell, which produces protons that are then accelerated by a miniaturized type of superconductor called a synchrotron. The pack is prevented from overheating by a cryo-cooled liquid helium reservoir. Once the protons have been accelerated, the beam produced is sent to the device's wand where it's fine-tune via a beam halo tuning cavity. If this all sounds like nonsense, that's because it mostly is, but Sony does a pretty admirable job of making it seem like a real product.
Also, a tie-in book for the new film "authored" by Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) further expounds on the science, stating that the positively-charged ionic beam counteracts ghosts' inherent negatively-charged energy. Also in this version, the beam's lower setting holds ghosts in the traditional sense like in the original films, but a higher setting can actually permanently eliminate ghosts.
So basically, a proton pack is a particle accelerator that creates a beam of protons that's used to fight ghosts. They don't really exist, and probably never will, but they sure are cool.
Images: Sony Pictures; Giphy